Bread flour adds strength to these notoriously crumbly, polvorón-like cookies. Mixed with ground walnuts, the cookies dissolve in your mouth and have a wonderful nutty warmth. Store-bought dulce de leche is great to use here, but the homemade kind below is just as easy as it requires only a hands-off stint in the oven. Leave the cookie sandwiches in the refrigerator to keep the dulce de leche from getting too warm and oozing out their sides.
Arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven, then heat to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped, about 20 pulses. Add the flour and pulse until evenly combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or a large bowl and using a hand mixer), combine the butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and the consistency of mayonnaise, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the walnut-flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Then, increase the speed to medium and beat until very smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Using a ½-ounce cookie scoop or 1 tablespoon, portion 15 mounds of dough onto each prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart equally. Wet the tips of your fingers and gently flatten each mound into a 1 ¾-inch-diameter disk; you will have to rewet your fingers between each.
Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through cooking, until golden brown at the edges and dry on top, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely on the sheets. Gently transfer the cooled cookies to the racks, then repeat baking the remaining dough.
To assemble: Spread some coconut in a shallow bowl. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche onto the bottom of half of one cookie. Gently sandwich it with another cookie so the dulce de leche expands just past the edge of the cookies. Roll the side of the cookie sandwich in the coconut so that it sticks to the dulce de leche. Repeat with the remaining cookies, dulce de leche and coconut. If your dulce de leche is a little soft and you find it oozing slowly out the side of the sandwiches, transfer the cookies to a tray in the refrigerator as you work.
To serve, dust the tops of the cookies with more powdered sugar, if you’d like.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour the condensed milk into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the pan in a larger baking dish or roasting pan. Gently pour water into the larger dish (careful not to get water on top of the foil or in the pie pan) until the water level reaches halfway up the pie pan. Bake for 3 hours, checking the water level each hour and adding more to keep it halfway up the side of the pie pan.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely in the water bath. Remove the pie pan from the water and remove the foil. Scrape the dulce de leche through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir until smooth. Scrape it into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
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